Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Resolution 2018: How It Involves Tea

My new year's resolution for 2018 involves tea - and all other aspects of my life.  My guiding word for the year will be mindfulness.  You have probably heard of mindfulness, but may not have thought about how it could relate to your love of drinking tea.  This article, How to Be Mindful With a Cup of Tea lays out the connection beautifully.

The definition of mindfulness that I found with a quick online search is as follows:

  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

    "their mindfulness of the wider [tea] tradition"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

In 2018, I will try to follow and journal about my interest in tea and my experiences with mindful tea drinking here on this blog.  This will, I hope, result in regular reviews of my tea drinking experiences, my thoughts on various tea-related books that I have read, and my ongoing creating of tea-themed DIY projects.  In sum, I will be blogging about the same things I have touched on in the past - but with greater attention to and focus on detail in the coming year.

I hope you will continue to visit and share your thoughts and reactions with me!

Harney & Sons Lotions

I was so excited to find a container of Harney & Sons tea scented lotion in my stocking. I had no idea Harney & Sons carried lotions. As you see in the photo, the lotion I have is called "Earthy."   It is scented with Harney & Sons Lapsang Souchong tea so it has a slight smoky fragrance.  At first I was not sure if I would like this smoky note in a lotion, but I have enjoyed wearing it this past week.  The smoky scent is subtle so when I wear it I feel more like "woods" than "campfire."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Morning Tea

We had a lovely Christmas morning at my house. As usual, the first thing I did upon waking up was to heat water for tea.  I brewed my first pot and drank it while opening gifts with my family.  After opening gifts, I just had to make Christmas morning's second pot of tea.  I used my new VAVA electric temperature controlled tea kettle to heat the water.  And once the water had boiled, I poured it over one of the tea blends that I had found in my stocking, the Victorian London Fog blend from Harney & Sons.  This tea was delicious!  It was smooth and tasted of vanilla and citrus.  Yum. I look forward to finishing off the sampler packet with another pot of tea in the coming days.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve DIY French Macaron Ornaments

Happy Christmas Eve! Just finished a craft project: French macaron ornaments made from bottle caps.  You can read about this project later today on my other blog, My Creativity Diary.  My family and I adore macarons, as they remind us of our trips to Paris and to Charleston, South Carolina.  We have bought macarons in both cities. So I made these macaron Christmas ornaments as a reminder of our vacations together.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Very Last Minute Gift Ideas: Your Local Groceries

If you need a quick, last minute gift for someone who enjoys tea, run out to your local grocery.  Many grocery stores carry Tea Time Magazine.  I have loved tea for years and only just now subscribed to this magazine.  So there is a chance that this would not be a duplicate gift.

If you have a Whole Foods Market in your area, you might pop in for a look at their tea aisle.  The Whole Foods in my town carries a wonderful selection of teas - some bagged and others loose.  If you do not have a Whole Foods store nearby, visit the company website and print out their informative  "Guide to Tea."  You can roll it up the printed pages and secure the bundle with washi tape or a red ribbon. This would make a fun and unexpected gift for a tea drinker.

And speaking of printing out tea-related information from the web, curate your own list of favorite tea blogs and/or online tea companies.  Type up the list with the URLs.  Print the list on nice paper.  And again, roll up and decorate the bundle. Anyone who is interested in tea would enjoy such information and would appreciate the effort that you put into creating the reference page.

All of these ideas can be done or created at the last minute!  So go out and spread tea love!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Last Minute Christmas Gift for the Tea Lover: Wal Mart

One quick, and perhaps nearby, place to find a tea-related gift is Wal Mart.  The Wal Mart closest to my home carries this adorable, large capacity teapot.  It is from Wal Mart's Pioneer Woman line of products.  This 2.7 quart capacity teapot is the perfect gift for your tea lover who drinks large quantities of tea OR for someone who entertains with tea.  I fit neatly into both of those categories, so this teapot is a welcome addition to my cupboard.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Afternoon Tea at Ivory Road Cafe in Asheville, NC

I just returned home from a lovely afternoon tea at the Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen here in Asheville, North Carolina.  This event was a collaboration between Jill Wasilewski of Ivory Road and Jessie Dean of the Asheville Tea Company.  Jill and Jessie host these afternoon teas on a regular basis. The events are always a beautiful and relaxing experience - replete with delicious food, tea, music and company.

my table set for the tea tasting

The event began with a tasting of four different seasonal tea blends from the Asheville Tea Company.  We tasted the teas and selected a favorite.  Jessie then served us each our own piping hot pot of  the tea that we had ordered.  Jill brought a selection of tea treats to each table and we then sipped and ate our way through the abundant servings.

a pot of piping hot pumkin pie chai

Jessie Dean of the Asheville Tea Company

tea and tea wares from the Asheville Tea Company

The Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen hosts tea events on a regular basis.  I recommend that you explore them if you find yourself in the vicinity of our beautiful mountain town, Asheville, North Carolina.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Last Minute Christmas Gifts for the Tea Lover: Trader Joe's

At this point in the holiday season it seems wise to shop local.  Here in Asheville we have a big "shop local" movement.  And I do, indeed, shop at locally-owned stores and markets. However in this blog post, when I say "shop local" I mean "go in person to a brick and mortar store."

For the purpose of shopping for some last minute gifts, I popped over to our nearby Trader Joe's to see what they carry at this time of year.  I was delighted to find a number of appealing tea-related gifts.  In fact, when I came away from the store, I felt as if I had hit the last minute tea gift jackpot.  Here below are the Trader Joe's tea items that I found most appealing.

This sounds like a delicious caffeine-free winter mint blend.

I often look for tea infused chocolate to no avail.  So I was delighted to find this tea or coffee infused collection of chocolates.

This is a nicely packaged set of teas for a very reasonable price.

Tea infused mints make the perfect small gift for a tea lover.

This tea sounds like the perfect flavored black tea winter blend.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tea Ornament Giveaway Winner

And the winner is eilandkind!  Send your snail mail address to me at!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tea Themed Christmas Ornament Giveaway!

Most tea themed Christmas ornaments that I have seen picture tea pots or tea cups.  I decided to craft one that features actual tea.  This small stoppered bottle holds dry tea leaves and a dangling tea pot charm.  Oh so cute!  If you would like one of these ornaments of your own, leave a comment here by noon on Monday, December 11 (US EST).  I will draw a winner at random from the names that are submitted. And I will pop this charming Christmas tea ornament in the holiday mail to that winner.
***THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED. *** I will announce the winner in a moment.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Tea Bag Christmas Tree

This craft project idea has been around the web for a while now.  With a quick search, I found it here and here.  It is a cute idea, so I decided to give it a try myself. 

I did not have a great deal of time to work on this project, so I used a small, 6 inch tall foam cone as the base rather than opting for a larger cone as the base for the tree.  And indeed, I completed this project very quickly.

Materials used:
-6 inch foam cone
-individually wrapped tea bags (I chose red and green.)
-hot glue gun with glue sticks
-a scrap of ribbon to wrap around the top of the tree
-a small plastic star

1) Starting at the bottom of the tree, use your hot glue to glue tea bags around the base, flush with the bottom of the cone.  I first glued green bags and then glued red bags to overlap and cover the open spaces between the green bags.
2) Glue the next row of tea bags above that, overlapping the top of the row below.  Continue gluing on tea bags until you reach the top of the cone.
3) I had a gap around the top of my cone, so I covered it with a piece of red ribbon.
4) Next, stick a toothpick in the top center of the cone and add a finishing touch to the top.  This final element could be a star, a ribbon or any small and decorative item you have on hand.

My follow up thoughts:
The tea bags were a bit stiff and bulky to work with, so I wonder what it would look like to create this project with empty tea bag wrappers.  In this case, the tree would, of course, be only decorative.  But I really would not want to tear apart one of these trees to use the tea bags anyway!  Would you take apart one of these trees to use the teabags?  Thoughts?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tea Themed Christmas Tree

This year as I hung ornaments on our family Christmas tree, I realized that I had accumulated a number of tea themed Christmas ornaments over the years.  So I am starting a new tradition of creating a Christmas tea tree.  Here's the start to my 2017 tea themed Christmas tree.  The ornaments  include tea pots, cups, kettles, and mesh infuser balls.  I look forward to adding to the tree year after year!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tea Lover's Book Club

Hello!  My friend over at the blog, Tea With Friends, has started an online book club for lovers of all things tea.  Hop on over and take a look!  The first book will be The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.  I'm so excited!  In general I don't read much fiction. But I will make an exception for this book and this book group!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tea Stained Tea Shrine

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy July 4th

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bohea from Oliver Pluff & Co.

This morning I had my first taste of smoked tea.  This particular tea, called "Bohea" by it's producer, Oliver Pluff & Company, is lightly smoked. My understanding is that some other smoked teas carry a much heavier taste of smoke. This is my first taste of smoked tea, in spite of all the tea I have drunk over the years, because the idea of drinking a smoky flavor just did not appeal to me.  But after sampling Oliver Pluff's Bohea, I have revised my thoughts on the topic.  I'm not sure that this type of tea will ever be my favorite, but I am certainly enjoying this one.

According to Oliver Pluff's website, this type of tea was imported in large quantities during colonial times and was, in fact, so popular that the term "bohea" became a commonly used slang term for tea.

According to the book The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide (2007), smoked tea was developed by accident in the Wuyi Shan region of China in 1646.  In advance of an invading army, local villagers in that area hid their tea by burying it in the mountains. Before burying the tea they needed to dry it to prevent it from rotting. So they dried the tea over pinewood cut from the surrounding area, where it adopted the smoky flavor. Later, the "ruined" tea was offered to Dutch traders who sampled it and loved it. Thus the practice of drinking a smoked tea was born.  

This book is an excellent resource with a useful index. So, I recommend searching it out to learn more about the history around smoked teas.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rosewater Iced Tea

Today I had the pleasure of tasting Rosewater Iced Tea for the first time.  My daughter and I discovered it at the Mediterranean Deli on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When I saw it, I knew it was something special.  I tried it, and ended up drinking more glasses of it than I care to admit.  It was delicious: a traditional Southern (sweetened) iced tea - with a hint of something more.

After that fortuitous find, and a filling lunch, I did a little online research where I learned that rosewater tea is also sometimes referred to as Lebanese tea or Persian tea.  Online you can find many recipes for brewing rosewater tea.

See a wonderful article on this particular iced tea from this particular deli in the online journal, Southern Things which is "a student edited and authored online journal of writing on Southern material culture published at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill." As this article succinctly states, The Mediterranean Deli's rosewater tea simultaneously offers customers "the comfort of the familiar and the thrill of the exotic."

I think that sums it up nicely.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Visit to Table Rock Tea Company in Pickens, South Carolina

This week I visited the Table Rock Tea Company with my friend, Jessica Tripp.  We were led on a tour by the charming company co-founder and co-owner, Jennifer Lorch.

We ended our tour of the green house and grounds by sharing stories over a pot of tea.  It was a lovely morning.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ajiri Tea from Kenya

This morning I am drinking a mango flavored black tea from Kenya.  It is produced by Ajiri tea.  I was delighted to find the tea and its charming packaging in one of our local Whole Foods Markets.

The black mango blend that I am enjoying is medium bodied and smooth.  The mango flavoring is balanced and not too highly perfumed.  So I am glad to have discovered this delightful addition to my tea cabinet.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

3 Mountains Tea

I recently learned about 3 Mountains teas from a friend here in Asheville - and was pleased to later discover that the company and its associated organization, Africa Healing Exchange, are based here in Asheville.

This morning I am drinking the Rwandan Black Orthodox tea which is made available to the U.S. market through 3 Mountains.  As I have written earlier, I enjoy strong black teas.  This tea is full-bodied but well-rounded and smooth to the finish.  Highly recommended!

If you are in Asheville you will find this tea on the menu at Dobra tea.  If you are not in Asheville, you can purchase this tea and other Rwandan products through the 3 Mountains website.  Happy drinking!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hope Tea from Thistle Farms

Today I am drinking another tea purchased from Thistle Farms.  This one is a black tea from Uganda which they call "Hope" tea. It is a strong, full-bodied tea with earthy tones.  This is my favorite type of tea.  It would be perfect for those who like to add milk and a sweetener to their tea.  But I take mine black.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Way of Tea and Justice

Today I am drinking a moringa blend black tea which I purchased from Thistle Farms.  This tea, which is a blend of moringa leaves, black tea, lemon balm, and lemongrass, is reputed to be rich in antioxidants and other healthful components.  I, myself, enjoy this particular tea blend as an afternoon pick-me-up because it has a perky, lemony flavor, and a bit of caffeine.

I first learned about Thistle Farms and its founder, Becca Stevens, back in 2011 when they were featured in a series on National Public Radio.  I immediately searched for Thistle Farms online and learned more about its mission.  I have been an admirer of the Thistle Farms enterprise, products, and founder, ever since.

To go along with this moringa blend tea, I have begun re-reading Becca Stevens' book, The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from its Violent History (2014).  I highly recommend this book to any tea lover who also has a concern for the plight of tea plantation workers, who are mainly women, and a concern for social justice in general.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Mindful Cook on Taking Tea

I am currently taking a course called "Mindfulness and Spirituality" so these days, any book with the word mindfulness in the title catches my attention.  I believe that the practice of mindfulness holds multifaceted benefits for anyone who devotes herself or himself to it.  So this book, The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen by Isaac Cronin drew me to it when I saw it on a store shelf.

As I thumbed through the book last night, I was pleased to discover that there is a section in which the author discusses the ritual of taking tea.  (pages 146-156)  He talks about taking tea in the context of mindful attention and hospitality.  So he opens these pages on tea with a quote from the queen of hospitality, Alexandra Stoddard.

In Alexandra Stoddard's Tea Celebrations, Stoddard writes:
"Each occasion is special. Every time you plan a tea happening, certain dynamics come into play. Listen and hear the message. For long after the event there is a lingering intimacy. Three sips into a sincere tea ritual could change our attitudes about the way we choose to live our lives."

These pages devoted to a discussion of taking tea focus on mindful attention to the ritual of tea and the interactions between host and guests.  (It also points to fascinating differences between how tea is taken in the East and in the West.) An article I referenced in an earlier blog post, "How to Be Mindful With a Cup of Tea" gives more explicit "instructions" on how one might practice mindfulness while drinking a single cup of tea.

I enjoyed the ten pages in The Mindful Cook which are focused on tea. Now I look forward to exploring the remainder of this lovely book.
© my tea diary
Maira Gall